About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Arsenal foil Krul intentions

According to the programme Newcastle were (Woolwich) Arsenal's first ever opponents on joining the Football League in 1893. Monday night's fixture certainly gave the impression that the intervening years had provided the opportunity for much enmity. Newcastle had got much of the good luck in famous clashes such as the ball over the line goal in the 1932 Cup Final, a win over an Arsenal team effectively reduced to ten men due to an early injury in the 1952 showpiece at Wembley, up to last year's surrendering of a 4 goal lead courtesy of a couple of dubious decisions.
On the face of it both teams had everything to play for. A win for Arsenal would secure fourth spot and leave them breathing down the neck of Spurs in third whilst Newcastle needed the points to get them back in the race for Champions League qualification. The first half promised much with strong running from Obertan and Ben Arfa providing a strong threat from United which ultimately gave them the lead. This was swiftly clawed back by Van Persie's instant equaliser and the game remained in the balance until half time.
A clue to the second half though was the way Martin Krul slowed the game down at every opportunity, a pattern which spread through the Geordie ranks after the break as they defended deep and tried to hang on for a draw. Aside from an enthralling midfield tussle between Rosicky and Tiote, Arsenal dominated the second half and should have secured the points long before the 90 minutes were up. Several chances were passed up whilst Krul pulled out a great save to tip a Vermaelen header over the bar at the death.
As the fifth and final minute of stoppage time approach, with Newcastle in possession deep in the Arsenal half, all looked lost but the Gunners turned the ball over and raced into a counter attack, Vermaelen running the length of the pitch to score the winner.
What followed were bemusing scenes which called to mind the amazing France v Kuwait game in the 1982 World Cup. 
All that seemed necessary was for Newcastle to kick off but with Krul haring up the pitch after countryman Van Persie most of the players were gathered in the centre circle as Howard Webb struggled to regain control. Van Persie received a yellow card after he gestured to the crowd to make some noise, as did Krul for completely losing it. This almost doubled the amount of stoppage time and meant  I was still queuing outside the tube station at 10.45 pm. 
Still it was worth it for the last minute win, with Arsenal looking unstoppable at the moment. Another break of over a week should be time enough to prepare for Everton away with some more players to return from injury to provide cover for the home game a few days later. Newcastle meanwhile look well worth a top ten finish but lack the ambition to step up to the holy grail of the top four.

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